Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Women in the workplace of WoW

I think that the WoW world of raiding and guilds and everything else that comes with it lends itself to comparing it to a workplace. Ok, even if you think it doesn't, just stay with me here, ok? If we think about WoW like your work environment, a bunch of thoughts around women in the workplace of WoW. First,

Do you think women are harder on each other in WoW?

Women being overly critical of each other in a social and workplace setting isn't anything new, and has often been discussed. This article has an interesting discussion on why women are so critical of each other.

"Too often I hear women admitting that it is women’s criticism more than men’s, “that you have to watch out for”. Why do so many women feel unsupported and criticised by other women"?

So is there a part of this in WoW? Myself, I've been in our guild pretty much since the beginning and haven't had to join a guild and thus meet and try to fit in with a bunch of new people. For those of you women who have, have you dealt with women in those guilds who were somehow threatened by you... leading to you being ignored or criticized? Does the social concept of women being bitchy and unwelcoming to each other in RL translate into guilds? Are the guys much more welcoming?

I have also thought about this from the other side, as a long standing member and officer (aka I really run the show but make Jess think he has some authority and decision making power from time to time) of our guild. How have I treated women who have joined our guild? Am I overly critical? Not welcoming?

If we are to talk about performance, I don't think that I am necessarily any more critical than the guys are... whether the performance comes from a guy or a girl. But I will say that there may be a part of me that may take more stock in the performance of a fellow female raider more than the male raiders. Why? Because its important to me to show that the gals can play just as well (and sometimes even better) than the boys. So when a female raider doesn't do as well, I feel like I have a more vested interest in seeing them improve. (Even though yes, I know there are plenty of male players who suck). It's like I don't want those females, especially our females, to play into that misguided stereotype that girls can't play.

So does this all lead me to being more critical? I don't think so. I hope not. But I think its something interesting for me to keep in mind and be aware of going forward. I will say that when I have been less welcoming or leery of certain people in our guild, it really had less to do with gender and more to do with my intuition that they weren't the right fit.

But as an officer in our guild, here's my next topic/question. It's interesting and kind of sad that in the business world, there is a lot of literature out there around the fact that most people (both men and women) prefer to have a male boss than a female boss. This article on Forbes talks about some of this where they cite a survey of 2,000 British women in full or part-time employment, where 63% said they'd prefer a male over a female boss. Is this true in WoW?

Do players, both male and female prefer dealing with male GMs and officers?

There's been more research lately around whether women actually make better bosses. An interesting op-ed kind of article from the NYTimes talks about this. One of the researchers starts out by saying:

"I have read hundreds of studies that have compared women and men as managers. When we summarize all of that research, some differences do show up, although only “on the average.” As with all averages, there are many exceptions."

Good point to keep in mind. The article continues with:

"Female managers are more collaborative and democratic than male managers. Second, compared with men, women use a more positive approach by encouraging and urging others rather than a negative approach of scolding and reprimanding them. Third, women attend more to the individuals they work with, by mentoring them and taking their particular situations into account."

"No doubts: Some sex differences exist, and there’s new evidence to prove it. Women are often better communicators because their brains are more networked for language. The majority of women are better at “mind-reading,” than most men; they can read the emotions written on people’s faces more quickly and easily. And the thicker corpus callosum connecting women’s two hemispheres provides a swifter superhighway for processing social messages, such as reading the morale of a group, or the mood of a colleague. And there are measurable sex differences in empathy."

This article (last one I promise!) also addresses some qualities that distinguish women leaders:

"Women leaders have an inclusive, team-building leadership style of problem solving and decision making... and are more persuasive than their male counterparts. The strong people skills possessed by women leaders enable them to read situations accurately and take in information from all sides. This willingness to see all sides of a situation enhances their persuasive ability. They can zero in on someone's objections or concerns, weigh them appropriately, address them effectively and incorporate them into the grander scheme of things when appropriate."

So, do you see differences in male and female WoW leadership?

Again, of course these are all average differences and individual differences exist. So what am I trying to say after all this ramble? I think women in guild leadership roles, as GMs or officers, are bringing something different and significant to the table. I, for one, would be leery to join a guild that didn't have a single female, not just in membership, but in some sort of leadership role.

Jess and I have talked about this before, but I think part of why our guild has generally been successful is because of the fact that we play off each other and the stereotypical male and female leadership and management styles. The ever present joke of us being the guild mom and guild dad works well. Because, yes (and I will admit it Jess), there are advantages to male leadership:

"Men also, they’re definitely better on the “whatever” side. Things tend to roll off their back. We women take things very personally. We’re constantly playing things over in our head — “What did that mean when they said that?” — when they mean nothing. And I’m certainly not immune to this. So there’s a downside to women."

Other noted male leadership styles include being more direct, task oriented, and being risk takers.

At the end of the day, whether in a real life job or in a WoW guild, I think men and women in leadership together makes for the best outcome.


  1. Interesting read, Ker. :) I think my WoW experience has probably not been the norm, because I've always had quality women players around me. Heck, I was originally mentored in the game by two very good female hunters. My leveling guild was run by a husband/wife team. My first raiding guild was run by a man who turned it over to a woman officer about 6 months later. My second (and current) was run by one man, handed over to another, and finally put in the hands of our current GL, who was formerly the heal officer and also a woman.

    More women have been affected by prejudice in WoW, I think, and that may actually be the reason that I think I've had a converse experience of forming strong bonds with other female players. The fact is, we ARE as good as the guys in the game, period. They may or may not like that, but it's true.

    Yes, my primary raid slot is a healer, a traditional female role, but I could cause major havoc on my ret paladin, my combat rogue, or my warlock, too, at times where alts were allowable. Even on my healer, I was the primary switch-hitter all the way through ICC, going from Tree to Moonkin as the group needed it. One of the best tanks I ever knew was a woman playing a prot paladin. She was one of those blazing the trail when prot paladins were becoming legitimate raid tanks. There is no question we can play the game as well as men can.

    But my relationship with other women in the game has always been very... sisterly? Not sure that's the right term. We are in a situation where there is prejudice, so we band together to stand against it. Will my GL come down on me if she thinks I'm not doing my best? Absolutely, yes, and she probably is more direct about it than any man has ever been. She's also a friend. We've done well at establishing boundaries when we are talking as friends and when we are GL/raider.

    Basically, I don't care what sex in charge of my guild, as long as they have the guild's best interest at heart and are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to run a raiding guild and they treat their members with respect. I've raided with men and women in charge, both. It works either way for me.

    Hm... I rambled a bit there, but I hope I got things across. :)

  2. @Kayeri: Haha... actually my original post was quite rambly and when I finished with it, I wasn't sure what my point was either. :)

    I'm glad to hear your relationships in game have been more sisterly. That has been my experience for the most part as well. I miss our raids of old where we used to have 5 out of the 10 raiders being women. Currently we are back to being 2/10. :(

  3. Hee, if I thought for even a moment you'd ever leave the Left Claw I'd tell you to come join us. :) Our GL, me, and Kro (who interestingly plays a male DK and does great dps) are the main female raiders, but there are many women in the guild.

    And my husband, sitting next to me, just added, "And we really need more healers" lol

  4. I'm a guy, but I tend to identify a lot more with the females in my life and wow. I'd want to say that females being hard on each other might be more prevalent in bigger guilds or raids. I know I saw some instances of this when raiding ICC25. However, then I remember some of the best times and bonds I've seen between females was back in Molten Core and the 40 person raid groups.

    Perhaps this was because it was so new, and they were pressured by all the guys. One interesting thing I remember was when some of the females moved on to other guilds due to playtimes or whatever they tended to continue to talk and do instances together besides just raid. Towards the end of vanilla people started to drop out of the game though. I still miss a lot of them. :( Then I left to focus on school as well. Now only one still plays the game, and I barely talked to her back then, let alone now ><

    Currently in my guild we’ve lost almost all of our female raiders, and the few that are left aren’t raiding yet. :( Some to real life, class changes they didn’t like, and even a few to drama. I miss them a lot, especially since I don’t get along nearly as well with the guys. I think I'll keep this post in mind for any future members we pick up.

  5. We have lots of women in our guild. I say women and not girls because we have an age minimum of 21. Many of our women are late 30s and 40s. Some are officers (as I am and temp GM atm). I can't imagine being in a guild that does not have any women.

    Are we overcritical? I dont' think so. In general, male or female will be asked not to stand in the fire, etc. :P

    I do dwell on relational aspects of the guild and encourage altruistic behavior when I can as that is one of the pilaars of our guild.

    Interestingly, more than half the women are healers. There are only a few that are DPS and we have no tanks that are female.

  6. @Kayeri: Yeah... I think many are in the spot of being short healers. We used to have almost 50% female representation in our guild but many have since quit the game.

    @Sakaki: I wonder if to your point, the female relationships are at either extreme. Either they are incredibly sisterly and the bonds last beyond raiding together, or they are hard on each other and not very warm or welcoming.

    @Ttrinity: I definitely focus on relationship aspects of the guild as well. I'm often telling our GM to address certain issues or have certain conversations so that guildies will feel that their concerns are recognized.. or that we are thinking about them. Great blog by the way! Definite add to my reader!

  7. I was once told by a GM that he had been hesitant about letting me be an officer because he was afraid of being accused of favoritism due TO MY BEING A GIRL.

    The irony was that the officer team in that guild had always consisted of people handpicked from the GM's circle of friends within the guild, and at least 2 of them were terrible at their officer role.

    I was both outraged and sad. Outraged for obvious reason, but also sad because I felt I had a lot to contribute to the guild with my stereotypical woman leadership skills. This was a guild that NEEDED a lot of morale, team building and communication.

    As for women being more critical of each other, I do feel that way. Actually, a bit like Sakaki and yourself pointed out: we're really hard on women who are different minded and we become really close to women who are similar minded.

    I like to think that I'm kind to other women, even though my expectations for them are higher. It's like, if a woman lacks common sense, or intelligence, or skill, it's an insult to *all* women. Which is silly, that's how it feels. I try to not let it show, though.

    As for how I've been tried by other women... Usually pretty good. But I haven't met many other women in game, most of them were quite a bit older than me and acted somewhat like a mother figure.

  8. I've been in guilds with varying levels of female participation and there definitely are differences. The Crew and the Claw both had strong female participation, and they seemed more friendly, or socially oriented than the one male dominated, srs bzns guild I was in between the two. That guild had one female on the entire 25 person raid team (though, incidentally, it was that one girl who befriended me and got me to join them when I was a lonely gnome wandering guildless and alone). But there no one showed up and chatted at all in between raids. Or even during them really.

    I think there's a hard chicken and egg question to answer there though. Does increasing female participation make guilds more socially oriented, or are females attracted to more socially oriented guilds and then able to attract more like-minded males to those guilds? Meh, I don't even really care what the answer is. Guilds are more fun when there's a good gender balance.

    I'm surprised that most people prefer a male boss though, I strongly prefer a female boss. They're way nicer. That's prolly just me though, as the overwhelming majority of my close friends a female I just seem to get along with girls better.

    Also, if my favorite WoW girl ever still checks in here: Rap!!!! We miss you!!!!

  9. @Ophelie: I can't believe a GM would say that to you! Because I totally think that there is a place for the relationship type skills we bring.

    I think you hit it on the head by saying "we're really hard on women who are different minded and we become really close to women who are similar minded". Completely!

    @Mr McSquish: Awww. Perhaps we call you Mr McSquish not just because you are a squishy mage?

  10. I think I messed up. Thought I posted a comment, sigh. I miss you guys! I miss my favorite gnome! How is the beard? Are you warm enough outside the papoose? Loves.